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Name: Abbey Tharpe
Position: UF/IFAS 4-H Extension Agent II, Taylor County Extension
Hometown: Perry, Florida
Years at UF/IFAS: 9
Describe your role at UF/IFAS
The 4-H Youth Development Agent in Taylor County oversees the entire 4-H program, including (a) budget and finance, program policies, enrollments and records, risk management, community and afterschool clubs, school enrichment programs, communications, educational materials, (b) volunteer recruitment, development, and management, and (c) life skill development. Programmatically, the agent plans, develops, delivers, and evaluates educational programs on life skill development, volunteer development, and organizational strategies, to support positive youth development.
How did your background/experiences shape your interest in your current field?
My interest in youth development became more evident when I spent my summers working at a 4-H summer camp as a staff member. I have always enjoyed watching youth grow and develop into contributing members of society. This passion solidified when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in Social Science. After I completed my research project on Bullying Prevention, I realized how truly passionate I was to be a part of helping youth thrive and succeed. Through my position as a 4-H Extension Agent, I am able to develop and teach hands-on educational programs that equip youth with the resources they need to grow and develop. I have been able to train volunteers and promote and implement a large variety of educational programs for youth in Taylor County.
Who do you admire?
The person I admire most would be my mother. I am one of four girls and she never let a school function or opportunity slip through the cracks that could help us grow and develop. She is the pick-up-your-bootstraps – don’t cry, shake it off, you’re okay – kinda mom. Always get back up when you fall kinda mom. Work hard, play hard, kinda mom. My girls can rule the world kinda mom. I would be able to achieve anything I set my mind to kinda mom. Her laugh will echo through generations as powerful as her fun-loving ways. She’s an original. She is a multi-tasking genius. One of a kind. An intelligent, Christian woman who is loyal to her family and has taught me that we can all exist with immense love through our differences. She gave me the gift of confidence instilling a knowingness in me that I deserved everything I worked hard for. These are traits that I have been able to pass on to my daughters as they begin to find their way in this world.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
To be honest, being the 4-H Agent in Taylor County is the most rewarding job I have ever had. This job allows me to utilize a variety of skill sets including managing staff and volunteers, creating innovative activities and programs, and being hands-on in helping develop the next generation of leaders in Taylor County. Being able to watch youth, year after year, grow and develop into adults through my 4-H program is like having a small herd of your own kids flourish before your eyes. As the 4-H Agent, I get to be a trainer, counselor, encourager and educator.
What inspires you? What are your hobbies?
I want to have fun and see kids learn. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, walking, home improvement projects, planting flowers, and going to the beach.